AAA in Toronto!

There’s some kick-ass stuff going on in the big city right now if you’re in the game development industry. We’ve known that Ubisoft has been gearing up its Toronto studio, and having now hired over 100 employees, they’re starting work on AAA tiles with two core teams! It’s hard to believe that this kind of work is happening right under our nose (given that Toronto is primarily known for its mass of indie developers), but also energizing to know that a lot of great talent from all over the world is here to work on these projects! Want to know more? Check out this recent interview with General Manager of Ubisoft Toronto, Jade Raymond. The industry has been keeping an eye on her since the announcement that she would head the studio, so expect more big things to come!

Also, I found what is quite possibly one of the most unique and cool jobs this week. If only I had made the time to play the Assassin’s Creed series of games, I could have been a Historian!  Well, not exactly a Historian, but check out this Ubisoft Montreal job posting. How cool is that? :D

OMGZ0RZSQUEENIXILUVUAHHHHHH!!!!

Taken from GameSpot, one of my dailies:

Square Enix forming new Canadian studio

Square Enix’s Eidos Montreal studio has yet to ship a game, but the publisher is already considering setting up a second studio in the city, according to a report from French-language paper La Presse.

The publisher told the paper it is looking to establish a new studio that would employ roughly 100 people, with Vancouver, British Columbia; Montreal, Quebec; and Toronto, Ontario, all in the running as possible locations. Square Enix is hoping to take advantage of tax credits as well as government subsidies from whichever province lands the studio. La Presse reports Raleigh, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; and Orlando, Florida, had expressed an interest in hosting the new development house.

A Square Enix representative said the company aims to settle on one of the Canadian locations for the studio by May, with an opening expected next year. Once up and running, the studio will focus on development for the next generation of home consoles.

I have only one response:

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  :D :D :D

Applied Philosophy: Heavy Rain

I’ve spent many months thinking about the role of a game designer. I’ve found some excellent resources online and much like my writing (which I barely talk about on this blog anymore :P), I find that the most helpful information comes from the pros: designers talking about game design.

Here’s a little article I game across today whilst perusing one of my dailies.  Now I haven’t played Deadly Premonition for the obvious reason that I don’t own an X-Box 360, but Hidetaka Suehiro, a Game Designer for the game, shared his design philosophy at last week’s Game Developer’s Conference. Here are his major points:

Point 1: Make gamers think about your game when they aren’t playing it.
Point 2: Make gamers actively “want” to play through your meticulously scripted story.
Point 3: Create a storyline for a free-roaming open-world game.
Point 4: Prevent players from quitting the game at the result screen.
Point 5: Make appealing characters.
Point 6: Characters should talk in a memorable way.
Point 7: Use all of your ideas while you can use them.

What I found to be particularly interesting about this article was that I had no interest in Suehiro’s own project but in how these design philosophies can be applied to just about any successful game. (I should note that I use the term “successful” here because one could argue that by not embracing the above points, a game would be less successful based on Suehiro’s own approach to Deadly Perils.) With that in mind, I thought it would be an appropriate (and fun!) exercise to apply Suehiro’s 7 points to another successful game: Heavy Rain, my current obsession and pick for 2010’s champion of gaming excellence.

Point 1: Make gamers think about your game when they aren’t playing it.

I’ve read a number of reviewers who’ve complained about the slow start to Heavy Rain: you set the table, you play with your kids, you go to the mall, blah blah blah. Yeah, so those tiny actions might seem insignificant to the average gamer, but Heavy Rain is telling a different kind of story. In fact, one could say that’s the only goal of Heavy Rain: to tell the story. Every element of the gameplay reinforces this concept–the story will go on until the game tells you it’s over. For these reasons, Heavy Rain dabbles in some of the more “mundane” actions that most games never detail and for good reason: to force you to think about the everyday. Heavy Rain is about actions and consequences: how every choice you make or fail to make will impact upon a future event. Only Heavy Rain takes something mundane, like shaving, and asks you to reflect on why it’s important that you shave in the first place. You may not understand why it’s important while you’re doing it, but when you go downstairs and your wife tells you that she likes it better when you shave, you’ll wish you had done it.

You might find yourself in the same position some day. “Should I shave? Would so-and-so like it better if I shave?”

And it’ll be that moment when you think of Heavy Rain. When you engage the player in tasks that mirror reality, you’re going to make your player think about the game when they aren’t playing it. Suddenly, all those tiny actions aren’t so insignificant anymore.

Heck, if you’ve already played Heavy Rain, I bet you’ll never look at a saw the same way again either.

Point 2: Make gamers actively “want” to play through your meticulously scripted story.

Another one that Heavy Rain accomplishes with ease. As I mentioned, the ultimate goal of Heavy Rain is to tell you a story. This isn’t an RPG, which plays like the same roller coaster every time, making you watch the same dialogue scenes and play through the same areas to get from point A to point B. By focusing entirely on the story, Heavy Rain ensures that you have no other choice then to play. And by telling you that all of your actions matter, that everything you do in the game has a consequence (however ultimate), Heavy Rain also tells you that you matter. Few other gaming experiences give you this kind of freedom, a godlike power to control the fate of the characters for good or bad. By engaging you in this way, Heavy Rain successfully makes gamers want to play because of a co-dependent relationship. It rewards you with story by making you play the story itself. After all, how many RPGs have you played where you slog through an area just to get to the next story scene?

The additional benefit to Heavy Rain’s approach? The story is meticulous indeed, and there is allowance for it because the story is the game.

Point 3: Create a storyline for a free-roaming open-world game.

The “sandbox” game is popular for a reason: give people the freedom to play and they will. Show Spiderman a tall building and he’ll want to scale it. Tell someone you can create lightning bolts and they’ll start blowing up cars. People love not having the restrictions of being forced into a scenario at a certain time. Sidequests have become a required staple of almost every video game for this very reason. Heavy Rain is the exact opposite in its approach, which is, at its core, on the rails like an arcade gun-shooter.

But Heavy Rain takes a different approach to “open-world”. Rather than give you a sandbox to play in, Heavy Rain places you in a room with objects, characters and words and says: “Go for it!” You may not be riding around on the city in a bike, or scaling tall buildings, or shooting lightning bolts from your fingertips, but Heavy Rain is giving you the equivalent. It doesn’t look flashy, and you don’t have superpowers, but you have the same freedom and control that you would in a sandbox game.

Point 4: Prevent players from quitting the game at the result screen.

Those clever little buggers at Quantic Dream, the studio behind Heavy Rain, avoided the issue of a result screen by not only not having one, but by structuring their game to not need one. Ever. There is no such thing as a “Game Over” screen in Heavy Rain. Once you’re on the ride, there isn’t any opportunity to reload or return to a save point. You’re going to play, you’re going to make decisions, and you’re going to live with it. (Your characters may not live with it though. :P)

For this reason, Heavy Rain becomes a near-seemless experience. Why do I say “near”? Because in between chapters you will, every so often, see the following message at the bottom of the screen: “You’ve unlocked a new bonus!” Well that’s sweet and all, but it pulls you out of the experience just a tad. Like those cursed trophy notifications.

Point 5: Make appealing characters.

The easiest way to do this is to just simply design a variety of characters and ensure they are relevant to the story. Every game has a goody-goody and a bad-ass. That’s because some people like to play innocent while others enjoy engaging with their devil-may-care attitude.

Okay, so it’s not always that simple. Characters also need to resonate with the player. There needs to be a quality about them that the player admires or respects so that they can put themselves in the shoes of the character either mentally or emotionally. In some cases, a player’s attachment to a character can come through negative feelings of hate, resentment or frustration. But these achieve the same effect: you’ve successfully made the characters meaningful in the eyes of the player.

Heavy Rain emphasizes this more than most games through the use of clothing, action and, most inventively, internal monologue. At any time during the game you can press a button and hear the thoughts that your character might be having. That’s primo character development and allows for characters to talk in their own voice quite literally–there’s no need to police one’s inner thoughts. It all serves to add to the appeal the characters have in addition to the excellent dialogue.

He’s more appealing than he looks, I swear!

Heavy Rain also prides itself greatly on its motion capture and facial recognition. Quantic Dream pulled each voice actor into the studio and duplicated their facial movements as they spoke each line and then transferred them directly onto the in-game characters. (Interestingly, this is why most of the characters look almost exactly like their voice actors.) This adds immensely to the realism of the game and the player’s ability to really see themselves in the characters, right down to a distracted look.

Point 6: Characters should talk in a memorable way.

Okay, so I’ve kinda covered this one already. The characters in Heavy Rain benefit from two sets of dialogue: that spoken aloud and internal thoughts. Add this to what is some of the best voice acting I’ve heard in a game and you have appealing characters.

One gripe: at one (very important) moment during the game, a character says the following:

“Yes, I am the origami killer.”

But the line itself is spoken like this:

“Yes, I am the origarmi killer.”

Seriously. What a huge oversight in the voice acting, especially given that it’s so pivotal to the plot. But hey, even then the line is memorable (if for the wrong reason)!

Point 7: Use all of your ideas while you can use them.

I really can’t speak to this one, but I’m guessing that the downloadable content to Heavy Rain (entitled “The Taxidermist”) meant that someone had an extra idea or two that they wanted to incorporate!

Overall, I find it fascinating to see just how many of the 7 design points, all of which were utilized for a different game in a different genre by a studio with a different primary language, could be applied to Heavy Rain as another successful commercial product. It goes without saying that many of these ideas are ones that should be utilized for a number of different games in order to craft and present the player with a memorable experience. In fact, I can’t help but wonder how many other great games there would be if these 7 points were applied more fruitfully.

For now, however, I’m perfectly content with replaying Heavy Rain. :)

Favourite Game of 2010! :D

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a post (that’s what portfolios and graduate applications will do to you)! But anyone who knows me also knows that I’m thinking constantly: ideas, solutions, obsessions.  This also means that I enjoy foreshadowing, even in the context of this blog. A few posts ago, someone may have noticed that I made an offhand comment about how I wasn’t “yet” ready to reveal my favourite game of 2010.

Well, now I am!

I should contextualize what I’m about to do here. My favourite game is just that: a game released in 2010 that I played and of which experienced incredible enjoyment. It’s not a discussion of the “best” game in any way. Now that that’s out of the way…

2010 was a strange year.  I played a horde of games on the Nintendo DS, and in the latter half of the year I acquired a new PC and got back into computer gaming for the first time since high school. My Wii got very little use, and the PS3 got some, but even it had an easy year. When I compiled a list of all the games I played in 2010, I realized one thing: none of them really jumped out at me as my “favourite game”.  Sure, there were some good ones, but nothing that truly made me shout to the masses “OMG U R TEH BEST GAME EVR!!!!11”

In fact, it wasn’t until 2011 that I actually found my favourite game of 2010.

“Bah?!?!?”

That’s right. There was a game that was released in 2010 that, for whatever reason, I just hadn’t had the opportunity to play until 2011. But now that I’ve played it, I’ve got two elegant words to describe it:

HOLY FRACK.

The usage of the term “frack” here is used only as the placeholder for which it is intended. With a current portfolio submission to a program that I’ve always dreamed of entering, it’s probably best that I don’t cross the border into profanity. :)

This game is, quite easily, one of the most innovative games I’ve experienced. In fact, I’m surprised that someone has not thought to do it until now. The game?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Oh come on. In a blog that analyzes the relationship between video games and writing, don’t tell me you didn’t see that one coming. But if you didn’t, that’s okay. Because you know what? I did not see this game coming.

The premise of the game is simple: there’s a lunatic out there known as the Origami Killer. The killer kidnaps young boys and places them into a storm drain immediately prior to a rainstorm, then contacts the parents and dares them to save their son. The catch? They have to save the child before the storm drain fills with water, which makes it a race against time (always effective in building suspense). But that’s not all. The big question this game poses is “How far would you go to save someone you love?” Because if you want to save that kid, the killer is going to make you work for it.  And let’s just say that this game will cause you to do things you’ve never imagined.

In an age where gamers complain about extended dialogue (Metal Gear Solid), cutscenes (Final Fantasy) and watching a game rather than interacting with it, Heavy Rain comes along with the premise of an “interactive movie” and makes you play the story down to the smallest detail. Everything that you do, and don’t do, has an impact on the game. Overlook a piece of evidence? You’re going to have difficulty tracking down the killer. Don’t look at the clock? You’re not going to be able to follow your schedule. I’m providing really vague examples for the purposes of providing as few spoilers as possible. But this is a game that demands your attention, but in doing so allows you to craft the narrative of the story. The relationships you have with the characters, the way you look, the thoughts you have–all of it is determined by your actions in game. And they can lead you to serious rewards or consequences.

In perhaps the coolest mechanic I’ve seen in a long time, Heavy Rain does away with the “Game Over” screen. That’s because you can’t end the game if you tried. Once you hop on the train, you’re along for the ride whether you like it or not. You’ll play as four protagonists in related storylines and even if you manage to kill some of them, the game will keep going. This is vastly different from the typical way in which we allow for alternate endings in games (which often depends on completing a particular sidequest or having a specific character in your party).

As far as the gameplay goes, this game isn’t going to hold your hand. It’s going to test you; challenge you to overcome insane situations or face the often horrible results of being unable to do so. I hope that your hand-eye coordination is strong! You’ll be able to hear your character’s thoughts, change camera angles, utilize some rather smart technology, and examine your very detailed surroundings, and all of the information feeds into your experience of the game.

I could talk for days about this game. It’s part suspense, part psychological horror, and part action. You’ll never predict what the game will throw at you because what it throws is based on your actions. It’s a seemless integration of narrative and gameplay that is fantastically (though not flawlessly) executed.  Someone could say that the game is nothing more than a series of quicktime events, and in many ways they’d be right.  The game requires you to push buttons at particular times in order to move forward (or die, haha). Some of the controls you use will be completely unnatural, but if you appreciate a great storyline like I do, you’ll be too immersed in the game to notice them.

If you haven’t already, do yourself a huge favour and play this game.  I guarantee you that you’ll freak out at least three times.  You’ll feel sad, you’ll feel guilty, you’ll feel relieved.  And by the end of it, you’ll be willing to throw yourself into the pot all over again to see how you could have done it differently.

And you’ll enjoy it just as much.

For Realz?! Final Fantasy XIII-2

A little birdy told me last week about the rumor that Square-Enix was preparing a direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, and today, it was confirmed:

Are you for realz?!

This isn’t the first time that Square-Enix has made a direct sequel to a main entry in their never-ending series.  But why would they be doing it for XIII?  I’d like to suggest a few reasons:

1. But we spent all that time!

It’s no secret that XIII spent years plagued by developmental woes.  It began development in 2005 and wasn’t released until four years later.  They had to pull the team from another game in order to speed up the development process and get the game finished on time. And, as you’ll read later, the game was fraught with a lack of vision.  All of these things meant that the development team spent a much longer than anticipated length of time developing an engine, working with the programming language of the PS3 for the first time, and just getting the game done.  After all that effort, why not craft a sequel that doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel?  The mythology, characters, models, animations, and monsters are already complete.  There’s no need to build from the ground up.  Instead, a sequel allows for an accelerated development cycle that ends with the birth of another Final Fantasy game much sooner than we can ever expect to see a new game in the series.

2. This bread is getting stale. :S

Let’s face it: Square-Enix has had a crappy year. The mediocre reception for the company’s releases during 2010 caused them to slash their profit estimates for the fiscal year by 25%. On top of that, the abysmal reception of Final Fantasy XIV: Online, a game that is free to play until it earns its rightful place as a “complete” game, has also likely cost the company millions and millions of lost revenue.  At the end of the day, the company needs to look to its popular products in order to achieve profit.  With the Final Fantasy VII cow having been milked to death repeatedly, it’s no surprise that the company would err to a safer and more recent release in Final Fantasy XIII, which was well-received despite a few criticisms, as we’ll see below.

3. Sorry about that!

Sometimes, sequels aren’t about fan service at all–they’re also about righting developmental “wrongs”.  Despite it’s relatively positive reception (if a bit lukewarm), Final Fantasy XIII was highly criticized for its linearity, lack of exploration and limited character customization.  Many gamers will remember that Final Fantasy X was criticized for the same shortcomings, and its sequel (the first ever for the main series entries) corrected those “wrongs” by introducing a mission system that allowed visits to any location at any time, a story that would unfold in any order, and the garment grid system that allowed for flexible character customization and dynamic battles.  Will XIII-2 seek to do the same?  The answer is a likely “Yes!” if we take into consideration this public apology uttered by the creators of XIII back in October 2010:

“Linearity and command-based battles were two of the features being perceived negatively. This was something that the team was very conscious about, and there were concerns about whether JRPGs would still be accepted in the West. Because Final Fantasy XIII’s mission was to succeed worldwide, we could not ignore this issue, as we felt it could deeply affect the future of the franchise.

Around the same time, we were experimenting with Western development methods, and there were talks within the team of global focus groups, which we had rarely conducted with previous projects. At the same time, Square Enix set up international focus groups for certain titles, including Final Fantasy XIII.

Unfortunately, we were already quite far along in development, and knew it would be too late to implement most of the feedback from the player test sessions. Even so, we still signed up for the opportunity, as this would be our only chance before the game’s release to see how Western players would respond to all that we had been working on.”

While I certainly understand the sentiment here, I would disagree that Final Fantasy XIII made such egregous errors in gameplay that it warranted this type of statement.  The fact is: not every game can appeal to every gamer. The strong aspects of Final Fantasy XIII (story, character development, mythology, motivation, conflict) are ones that, arguably, would have been significantly weakened by allowing players too much freedom. It thus seems plausible that the development team will make an effort to ensure that XIII-2 allows players the opportunity to interact with the game in ways that they could not while playing XIII.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, sequels are about two things: making money and appeasing fans.  Final Fantasy XIII-2 may strive to do both whether it’s warranted as a necessary game or not. (I could argue to the ends of the earth that, from the perspective of the story, a sequel is completely unnecessary but it seems to make no difference now.)  And given the release date of this year (!), it seems as though we won’t have to wait too long to find out!

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering…

Lightning still looks effing awesome. ;)

Looking Forward: Why 2011 Will Rock

It’s the time of year when all of the major online journalists start spewing out their “Best of 2010” video game reviews, and as subjective as they might be, they provide a nice framework with which to look back at the year and say “That was sweet!”  I’ve played many enjoyable games this year, and although I’m not ready to review my favourite game of 2010 (yet), I do want to spend a moment looking forward.

2011 is going to be an amazing year for games. Not because the giant fad that is 3D will continue to demand your attention (and wallet) like the needy child that it is, but because we’re in the wonderful age of platform maturity. The X-Box 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PSP, and iPhone have all been around for a long time. Developers have been given plenty of opportunities to master the bunny hill and make their way down the black triangle. That’s right: the final years of a console’s life are often the sweetest, where fresh ideas and hardware limitations are pushed to deliver the most exciting experiences to gamers. 2011 will be that year.

Here’s why I’m so excited:

I don’t know many fans of Batman, but I can tell you that I’ve played almost all of the Batman games in existence.  Batman: Arkham Asylum was a stupendous achievement for superhero video games in that it was the first one that not only managed to not suck, but provided an amazing story, refreshing and clever gameplay, and easily the best all-around Batman video game experiences ever.  Arkham City is the highly anticipated follow-up that I just can’t wait to play!

Dissidia: Final Fantasy is quite possibly one of the best fighting games I’ve ever played. The combat is simple yet deep, finely nuanced, and retains the charm and style that you’ve come to expect from watching your favourite Final Fantasy characters kicking ass.  Dissidia Duodecim 012 is the sequel that promises more characters, new storylines (including–finally–one centered on the villains), and if its predecessor was any indication, more unlockables and items than you could ever have time to acquire. In less than a year’s time, I’m going to be kicking Vaan’s irrelevant ass and enjoying every second of it.

inFamous is easily one of the best games I have ever played. Words just cannot do enough justice to a game where you can wield lighting and fire it at enemies, use it to hover or ride railway tracks, or create lightning storms. The moral choices may have been shallow, but they were effective in changing the gameplay style in radical ways. Seriously, Storm has nothing on Cole McGrath. inFamous 2 seeks to up the ante in every way, and when it finally hits store shelves, Final Fantasy XIV will be the sad boy in the corner getting no love from me. Give me lightning any day of the week.

If you haven’t played Little Big Planet, you’re missing out on one of the most charming gaming experiences you will ever have. At least, until the sequel comes out in January 2011. For a game that requires the use of two buttons and is designed to be a platformer, Little Big Planet is an unforgettable experience. The levels are unique, the customization is massive, and Sackboy is the cutest gaming icon since Kirby. But Little Big Planet didn’t just refine a genre: it refined the ability for players to make games, which means you always have something new to play and experience. Little Big Planet 2 will do all of that and more, and just the thought is enough to make me giddy like a schoolgirl. ^_^

If you thought this series was over, you were wrong. Dead wrong. The rebooted Mortal Kombat returns in 2011, saved by the Warner Bros. Studio following the unfortunate bankruptcy of Midway Entertainment, founding home of the most brutal and entertaining fight games ever conceived. All the favourite characters return (think Mortal Kombat II), classic arenas, and the most horrifyingly disturbing fatalities ever seen in the series. It’s going to kick ass, and I’m going to make all of you watch.

If Dissidia: Final Fantasy is one of the best fighting games I’ve ever played, then Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is the best. Take all of your favourite comic book and video game characters, mash them together, and watch the mayhem! Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is easily one of the most highly requested games ever (you know how fanboys are :P), and with more characters, cleaner and sharper graphics, and streamlined gameplay, this is going to be the fighting game that people will be playing for the next 10 years.

With a scheduled release date of “2011”, I had to include this here.  I’m going to play “Silent Hill 8” at 1:00 AM with no lights on and be too terrified to sleep for weeks afterword, and it will be worth every. single. moment.

Only one friend of mine knows just how obsessed I am with the Diablo franchise, and I can tell you right now, she’s not going to be a happy camper to see this one on here. Why? Because I played Diablo II for 5 years non-stop. Ever wonder where my carpel tunnel came from? Diablo II. Ever wonder why I adore Blizzard Entertainment? Diablo II. Ever wonder why every other dungeon crawler is modelled from Diablo II?

Because it’s freaking amazing.

Oh yes, there will be lots of time for Diablo III when it’s finally released in late 2011. All other games are nothing more than overpriced dust collectors.

And there you have it! Eight wonderful reasons why I’ll be broke and friendless by the end of 2011. And that’s not even considering the games that I don’t know about yet! :D

Cheap Fun: Solomon’s Boneyard (iPhone)

What can $0.99 buy you? Disgusting amounts of fun if you have an iPhone. I haven’t discussed any games on the phone yet, but I figured that now is the best time to do so because I simply cannot stop raving about one game I picked up a couple months ago: Solomon’s Boneyard.

The premise is really simple: pick a wizard, stand in a cemetary, and kill as much as you possibly can. Take a game like Resident Evil 5 and strip it down to its survival mode and that’s exactly what you’ve got here. One concept, brilliantly executed and polished for disgusting replayability.

Each wizard in the game starts with his/her own set of specialized magic: fire, magic missle, lightning or frost, and each set of magic has a subset of skills that further allows you to cut down all the undead enemies that Solomon (literally) digs up for you. For example, Morth the Icebinder has a frost beam that can be upgraded to push enemies away from you or deal damage in a wider radius. Aliss the Witch shoots lightning from her fingertips that can be upgraded to stun enemies and link to adjacent baddies. The best part? Welding two spells together earns you the combined properties of both. If you weld magic missle (think of auto-targeting orbs) and lightning, you’ll end up with lightning orbs that stun and chain to enemies. Again, it’s a really simple concept by the sheer variety of spells and welding allow for a completely customizable experience. You may find that you can kill a 1,000 enemies with fire spells, 800 with the lightning spells, but then 1,600 when you weld the two together for giant fire-beam fun!

To add to the potential for destruction, you can also earn “perks”: unlockable rewards that you use to customize your character and give him/her greater advantage on the battlefield. Find that you don’t have enough health? Purchase a health power-up. Want to have more firepower? Just purchase the skill and equip it to your character. All of the perks are purchased by collecting gold within the cemetary, which means that the game encourages and rewards you with more options the more you play. And new perks are added whenever a free update to the game is available for download!

As a gaming system, the iPhone has massive potential for games (paricularly indie games if you read my entry about Gamercamp 2.0). The more I get myself into the mindset of a game designer, the more appealing the iPhone becomes. Just think about it: you don’t need to spend thousands of hours creating a story that spans 20+ hours of playtime, your limited by graphical capabilities, and by wanting your product to sell on the AppStore, you’ll probably want to keep the cost of the game to less than $4.99. This means that almost anyone with a little bit of time can develop a game for the iPhone and sell it without the need for a huge team, a massive production budget, tons of marketing and the like. Just look at the wild success of Angry Birds and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

On the other hand, if you want to see evidence of how crazy the iPhone (or iPad, I suppose :P) can be when it comes to game development, just have a glimpse at the website for the recently released and high acclaimed Infinity Blade, which rivals most console games in terms in terms of graphical quality and playability.

Having received a gift card for the iTunes store from a co-worker just yesterday,  you shouldn’t need to ask what I’m doing when I don’t answer my phone calls!